Captain Bhupinder Singh of the Indian Army, who was involved in the alleged fake encounter in Jammu Kashmir’s Shopian in July, conspired with two civilians to carry out the operation for reward money of Rs 20 lakh, PTI reported on Monday, quoting a police chargesheet. However, the Indian Army, denied there is a system of a cash reward for its security personnel.

“By staging the encounter, Capt Bhupinder Singh of 62 RR [Rashtriya Rifles] and two other civilians also purposefully destroyed evidence of the real crime that they have committed and also have been purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with motive to grab prize money of Rs 20 lakh,” the chargesheet mentioned, according to PTI.

The Army, meanwhile, said in a statement that it had no system of awarding cash to its personnel. “There are media reports quoting that Amshipora encounter actions were driven by a Rs 20 Lakh award for killing of terrorists,” Defence Spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said. “It is clarified that Indian Army has no system of cash awards for its personnel for any acts in combat situations or otherwise in the line of duty. The report is malafide [misleading] and not based on facts of the processes internal to Indian Army.”

Other than Singh, the police named Tabish Nazir, a resident of Chowgam village of Kulgam district, and Bilal Ahmed Lone, a resident of Arabal Nikas in Pulwama district, in its 1,400-page chargesheet filed before the chief judicial magistrate of Shopian, according to PTI.

According to the chargesheet, four out of 75 witnesses in the case mentioned in their statements that Singh “initiated a few bursts of live ammunition even before a cordon was laid” and others joined him very late in engaging the suspected militants, The Hindu reported. Subedar Garu Ram, Lance Naik Ravi Kumar, and Sepoys Ashwini Kumar and Yougesh, who were part of Singh’s team, were among those whose statements were recorded.

The chargesheet further noted that Singh showed two pistols with two magazines, four empty pistol cartridges, 15 live cartridges and 15 empty cartridges of AK series weapon and other objectionable items as recoveries from the encounter site.

Singh and the two civilians have been charged under multiple charges, including those of murder, criminal conspiracy and illegal possession of arms, according to The Hindu.

Shopian fake encounter

On July 18, 2020, the security forces had said that they received specific inputs about the presence of militants in South Kashmir’s Shopian district, after which they began the operation. They claimed that the suspected militants had allegedly opened fire at the security forces. However, family members of the civilians had come forward to clarify that they were labourers and not militants. The families of the deceased – Abrar Ahmed, Imtiyaz Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar – had sought immediate arrest and conviction of those responsible for the incident.

A formal inquiry into the deaths of the three men began in August. The Court of Inquiry, which completed its investigation in September, found prima facie evidence that its personnel misused powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, in the episode. Disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act were initiated against the accused personnel.

On December 25, the Army said that it had completed the Summary of Evidence in the inquiry, though it did not reveal any details. Two Army personnel are likely to face court martial proceedings for violating the powers vested under AFSPA, and for not following the rules as approved by the Supreme Court.